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According to experienced Christians, "If anything, a focus on General Revelation should correlate with more experience focus, as people relish in the signs of God." It is so true that when the Faith of a person is thoroughly establish, the pathway to intimate experience with God is enhanced!

But when there is less known about the strong Apologetic foundation of Christianity, it seems that the average Christian must rely on experiences he has encountered, to maintain his faith. Would this dilemma tend to cause church services to be more audio/visual (which is appealing to the younger set in the church)?

This question is based on 35 years of teaching Apologetics in a Christian high school. The dearth of information evidenced from a questioning of students from the diverse churches, revealed that General Revelation (and Apologetics in general) was non-existent in the Discipleship classes of those churches! Discipleship class manuals contained the usual topics of Baptism, communion, tithing, family, charity, prayer, etc. These are the what's of Christianity.

But the why's of Christianity were left out. Or were referenced to para-church orgs such as Cru, Intervarsity, Got Questions, and the like outside the local church. The satisfaction the students showed when they realized that the Christian worldview provided reasons and answers that the average mind sought after, was amazing! The response of the surprised parents was off the charts! This class filled a huge gap that was in the Discipleship efforts of their churches.

So is this the reason why church families that do not have access to great Apologetic teaching, are relying on audio/visual emphases in Sunday morning churches, or youth group meetings with emphasis on "a good time"? Experiential emphasis? And does it also lend to a tendency for Believers to want and seek some physical manifestation in their walk with God to increase or sustain their Faith in God

Would a foundation in General Revelation teaching (Apologetics) provide a surer foundation and basis for any experience they may encounter?

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    "But when there is less known about the strong Apologetic foundation of Christianity, it seems that the average Christian must rely on experiences he has encountered, to maintain his faith." Huh? No! Faith is sustained by resting in the promises of God, as we read and meditate on the scriptures. Apologetics is situationally useful for a few people with specific questions, but is not in general something that sustains faith. Also apologetics is not about they whys of Christianity.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 0:25
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    I'd say that most Christians don't need to know very much about apologetics. And the apologetics that is most generally useful isn't based on general revelation, but the history around Jesus. Something like The Christ Files is what would be helpful and appropriate for most Christians to know. Things like, for example, the Kalam cosmological argument are valid and important, but much more niche, and not something the average Christian needs to learn.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 0:29
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    The question is very broad and vague and based on anecdotal evidence. It will gender opinions, but I cannot see any factual answer being possible.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 0:35
  • @ curiousdanni - "Why" needs to be defined (in Apologetics). It doesn't deal with "why God did this or that , or why He created the universe, etc. The "why" of Apologetics deals with "Why the Christian worldview is true, and not another!" "Why we can be sure we are believing and committing our lives to the right (and only) God." Yes, Apologetics deals with "why's". And it is refreshing to new Christians to discover that there are "reasons to believe," (Richard Purtil's book by that name). Not just a few people, but everyone I taught for 35 years had Faith increased, if not established.
    – ray grant
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 0:48
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    @raygrant I don't think Hebrews 1:1-3 is talking about general revelation. One of the clearest passages about general revelation is Romans 1, where it has the power to remove anyone's excuse not to believe in God. But that's it. It has no power to save, and it doesn't lead to special revelation.
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 2:01

2 Answers 2

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Christian worldview

But the why's of Christianity were left out. ... The satisfaction the students showed when they realized that the Christian worldview provided reasons and answers that the average mind sought after, was amazing! The response of the surprised parents was off the charts! This class filled a huge gap that was in the Discipleship efforts of their churches.

What you describe above I think would be better termed "Christian worldview" education, the way that we deploy our Christian lives in the world via our family life, friendships, jobs, cultural activities, political activities, etc. The term "General revelation" is covered by Natural Theology & Christian philosophy and the term "Apologetics" refers more to answering difficulties, which (depending on the questions) fits into either philosophy (free will vs. providence, etc), hermeneutics (history vs. inerrancy, etc.), or theology (suffering vs. good God, etc.). But "Christian worldview" has to do primarily with culture and with existential questions: how being a Christian is meaningful, transformative, and exemplary in EVERY sphere of life, thus addressing the "Why", "Wherefore", and "How" questions.

I used to have those questions when I was in college, and I felt that the churches I attended couldn't answer them well enough, not even when my college Christian friends introduced to me the books by Francis Schaeffer, although Christian worldview WAS one of Francis Schaeffer's main concerns.

Yes, unfortunately I have seen many Christians who didn't get fed proper Christian worldview turn into experience through charismatic practices and/or concert-style worship service, which then make them more subjective in their outlook (not using their mind) and some even become more isolated in their reasoning regarding the world, compartmentalizing "worldly" reasoning and "spiritual" reasoning making them less effective to win souls for Christ who want to have a healthy spiritual mind. BUT the solution is not through teaching them Natural Theology but through Christian worldview which shows them how the Body of Christ can show the light of Christ not only through explicit proclamation of the gospel, but also through showing Christian cultural products that exhibit the Truth, Beauty, and Goodness of God. I'm very much surprised how C.S. Lewis books keep getting more and more popular, and I'm sure partly it's because his books answer those worldview questions. We need more of books on those topics introduced to college-age Christians, maybe through secondary literature such as Michael L. Peterson's C.S. Lewis and the Christian Worldview (2020). Christianity Today and First Things magazines are also useful in helping us see Christianity in action in the world.

I also got a lot of mileage from the now out-of-print 1990s Through the Eyes of Faith book series authored for the Christian College Coalition (the older name for Council for Christian Colleges and Universities), covering Sociology, Literature, Music, Biology, History, Psychology, Business, and Mathematics, though later there seems to be is a Kindle version for 5 of them still available.

Faith and learning, evangelical mind

There is also a whole underappreciated genre of evangelical books out there around several key concepts such as "faith and learning" (see this 1990 paper Faith-Learning Integration: An Overview and a very short historical opinion in Roger Olson's blog article on Jan 3, 2024) and "discipleship of the mind":

Conclusion

Rather linking "General Revelation" or "Apologetics", the right cause-effect connection is: LESS focus on "Christian Worldview" and "Christian mind" ==> MORE "Experience-oriented" religion.

One solution is intentional education (Sunday schools?) and promoting a positive outlook (sermon plug-ins?) for

  • faith-learning integration
  • Christian mind discipleship, and
  • building a Christian worldview

in evangelical churches, thus rectifying the "scandal of the evangelical mind".

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  • @ GratefulDisciple - Good insight, and corrective points. Appreciative. Have a blessed year!
    – ray grant
    Commented Jan 3 at 21:14
  • @raygrant Same to you! I added a few more authors and books to the answer in the genre of Christian worldview, "integration of faith and learning", and "discipleship of the mind". Hope that helps. Commented Jan 4 at 1:58
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But when there is less known about the strong Apologetic foundation of Christianity, it seems that the average Christian must rely on experiences he has encountered, to maintain his faith. Would this dilemma tend to cause church services to be more audio/visual (which is appealing to the younger set in the church)?

It depends on what you consider to be an experience. In philosophy of mind, a concept commonly used is qualia, defined as instances of subjective, conscious experience. In principle, anything experienced by your consciousness is a quale. And a quale does not need to be restricted to a visual or auditory experience. Touch, taste, smell can be considered qualia as well. Additionally, emotions, thoughts, and even the sense of time passing can also be regarded as qualia. And if spiritual and divine experiences are on the table, the realm of qualia expands even further. So reducing experience to only encompassing vision and audio is unnecessarily restrictive, and overlooks the possibility of legitimately having conscious experiences that go beyond the conventional physical senses.

So is this the reason why church families that do not have access to great Apologetic teaching, are relying on audio/visual emphases in Sunday morning churches, or youth group meetings with emphasis on "a good time"?

This is a very loaded question that would benefit from supporting sources. It also presupposes that physical light and sound waves are the primary sources of conscious experience, when this may very well not be the case, as previously discussed. As for the point regarding apologetics, I'm personally skeptical of the view that reason and publicly accessible evidence alone can be enough to ground a profound conversion and transformation, if we concede that the end goal is to achieve something along the lines of a mystical union with God (see also How can one overcome the distractions of modern life to attain theosis and become a vessel for spiritual gifts?).

Experiential emphasis?

If your theology acknowledges the possibility of a mystical union with God or the pursuit of deeper levels of spirituality, it's challenging to comprehend how any of those experiences could manifest without the involvement of qualia. The notion of a "subconscious" union with God doesn't align with the testimonies of many saints, both within and beyond the Bible.

And does it also lend to a tendency for Believers to want and seek some physical manifestation in their walk with God to increase or sustain their Faith in God?

Once more, this presupposes a reductionism of conscious experiences solely to the physical realm. If experiences beyond the physical are conceivable, this assumption is misguided.

Would a foundation in General Revelation teaching (Apologetics) provide a surer foundation and basis for any experience they may encounter?

My personal impression is that General Revelation can provide helpful hints toward a conclusion, but the nature of that conclusion entails that there is much more to be sought than mere General Revelation.

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  • @ Mark - Good input! General Revelation certainly doesn't rule out Special Revelation!!! God used [general revelation] so that men would seek Him.. (Acts 17:27) But this question raises the spector of modern Christianity's moving away from Apologetics dealing with the proofs Paul mentioned in Acts 17, toward a more experienced-oriented religion..perhaps an event-oriented religion. It recognizes the validity of mystical (charismatic) experiences, but also is concerned with possible superficial experiences. What do you think? Peace.
    – ray grant
    Commented Dec 21, 2023 at 22:41

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